Desperate for a starting-caliber cornerback, the New York Jets are expected to sign the oft-injured Morris Claiborne, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported. Claiborne, 27, was drafted sixth overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, but he has disappointed, partly because of injuries.
Contract terms: Not immediately available.
ESPN 150 ranking: Claiborne is No. 42.
Grade C: The cornerback market was drying up, so the Jets had to do something quickly. It's hard to make a risk-reward evaluation without knowing the exact contract information, but you have to believe it'll cost them about $5 million in 2017, based on the market. Presumably, the guarantees won't impact their ability to dump Clairborne after a year if it's a multiyear deal. If they're handcuffed by the money, it's a bad signing because Claiborne, who has missed 33 out of 80 games, is a big gamble. He's never healthy.
What it means: This shouldn't preclude the Jets from drafting a cornerback with the sixth overall choice. Coach Todd Bowles needs more than one starting-caliber corner to make his secondary whole again. They still have Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams and Juston Burris, but they're not projected as No. 1 or No. 2 corners. Such is life after Darrelle Revis. Claiborne, 27, is a man-to-man corner, so he fits from a scheme standpoint. One AFC scout said, "Injuries have been a hurdle on a yearly basis. If he can stay healthy, he has a chance to earn a starter's role. If he doesn't start, he can be your three. In [the Jets'] situation, he should compete for a starter's job or at the very least be in their top three. Perhaps he's worth a flier."
What's the risk? Claiborne was a stud at LSU, but it hasn't translated to the NFL. He has 32 penalties in 47 games, according to NFL stats. He never has played a full season, and he's missed 26 of 48 games over the last three years. He has injured almost every part of his body, most notably a torn patellar tendon in 2014. As a result, his production has suffered. A total of 20 players picked in the 2012 draft have more career interceptions than Claiborne (four), including 14 defensive backs. That said, he was playing the best ball of his career last season before a groin injury cost him nine games. Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan is hoping seven games played last season can turn into 16, helping the Jets' leaky secondary. Thing is, if a player is injured for five straight years, it probably won't change in the sixth.